Request: fast journals June 23, 2008Posted by Ben Webster in good journals.
Mohib Ali asks:
Can you talk little bit about the ISI Journals which reply faster than others, in other words they take minimal time for their decision about acceptance or rejection?
Unfortunately, the answer is “No. Sorry. I wish I knew something to tell you about that.”
For all my ranting about the system as a whole (more of that later), I know very little about particular journals, and pretty freely admit to being completely mystified by the current thicket of them.
On the other hand, I can say this: no journal, as scholarly journals are currently constituted, can be trusted to make a very fast turn-around, because all of them depend on anonymous volunteer referees, who are not exactly 100% reliable. On a fundamental level, there’s a big motivation mismatch here: the writer of the article benefits a lot from the article being decided on, and the referee doesn’t at all, and there is no way for the author to apply pressure on the referee other than begging (and mediated begging through the editor, even). This is a deep, deep flaw in our current peer review system, and things will be rather broken until someone figures out how to fix it, which sucks for those of us under pressure to publish (which is probably most of the readers of this blog).
One very interesting attempt to get out of this trap is the journal Biogeosciences. This journal is actually two journals. The first is “Biogeosciences Discussions,” which consists of all papers which were submitted and passed an initial review, all the referee comments on the papers (either with the referee’s name or anonymously) and comments from anybody else who felt like chiming in (all attributed), and the authors’ responses to these comments. The second is the actual journal “Biogeosciences,” which consists of those papers which ended up actually being accepted.
Now, I’m not sure this is the model we’ve been waiting for, but it sure sounds like a big improvement over what we’re doing now. Anybody feel like implementing this idea for mathematics? I’d be happy to referee.